Well, we’re five games into the series between the Calgary Flames and the Vancouver Canucks. With that many games under our belts, we have a decently-large enough sample size to dig into the underlying numbers a bit and see how each player is doing.
I split the data into home and away, and I’m looking at both Corsi (all shot attempts: on-net, blocked and missing the net) and Fenwick (unblocked shot attempts), in part because the Flames are block machines and in part because it could be interesting. Numbers are expressed in terms of plus/minus in each category.
Beware sample sizes, though: there have been 2 home games and 3 away games, so bear that in mind when you look at the gaps.
(Granlund and Raymond split time.)
At home, every line posts fairly respectable numbers, though the second line (Bennett/Backlund/Colborne) likely suffers a bit from match-ups and lags behind everyone else a bit in both Corsi and Fenwick. It’s worth noting that Stajan, Ferland and Jones have seen the most of the Sedins in Calgary and, shockingly, they are almost in the black in terms of Fenwick.
On the road, woof. The Stajan line remains stellar – it likely helps that Willie Desjardins has last change and likely does his damnest to avoid a Sedins match-up with Ferland – but the Flames top line is getting demolished. Everybody else is just fine, but considering how crucial that trio is to production, it’s a pretty massive gap between them getting their proverbial possession heads kicked in…and everyone else not doing so.
(Wotherspoon and Potter split time.)
The distribution is a bit less stacked here. At home, Engelland and Brodie do well, Russell and Wideman do the worst and the third pairing is somewhere in the mushy middle. On the road, the two top pairings are about even, while the bottom pairing is a bit higher up, though if you pro-rate that by ice-time it’s a lot less impressive.
Basically, Willie Desjardins seems to try to target match-ups to negate the offensive prowess of Calgary’s top two defense pairings at home, while Russell and Wideman seemingly get the tough sledding at home so that Engelland and Brodie can try to create chances. There is no real logic behind the use of the bottom pairing in either building.
Give the logics, the performance of the defensive group is more or less exactly as you would expect it to be.
THE OTHER SIDE
I’m purposefully cherry-picking here just to provide a brief cross-section.
The difference between Corsi and Fenwick is particularly stark (a) in the Saddledome and (b) against the Sedins. I mean, that split is insane, and it speaks to Calgary’s apparent game plan: keep them to the outside and block whatever you can.
And you can also see how handily the Sedins handle the Monahan line at Rogers Arena. This series so far has been a fun study in how match-ups can determine a series’ outcomes at home and on the road.
But based on these numbers, you can kind-of see what so many hockey people are thinking Calgary closes out the series on Saturday night, too. When they get the match-ups they want, they’re pretty effective.